Troop 868 in Action

BEAR WALLOW (December 2004)

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December weather can be amazingly pleasant or equally miserable.  Hoping for the former but preparing for the latter, Troop 868 decided on a Friday night base camp at Bear Wallow followed by a Saturday hike of the American Heritage Trail as our monthly outing.

Bear Wallow is a privately owned facility in Nashville, Indiana that caters primarily to scout groups.  In addition to the American Heritage Trail that we hiked, several other trails (including the Flags of the Nations Trail, the Yellowwood Trail, and the Ten O'clock Line Trail) are also available.  The official name of the enterprise is Outdoor Educational Activities, Inc., but the campground is named Bear Wallow and that's the name that everyone commonly uses.

Camping fees at Bear Wallow are very reasonable and the trailheads are within a short walk of the campground, so camping the night before is highly recommended.  Our campsite was larger than we needed and provided more than enough flat ground to erect tents.  Several picnic tables and two fire pits were provided along with a pit toilet.  Water was available at Trail Headquarters about a 1/4 mile away.  We had planned ahead and brought our own water, so this wasn't an issue.  There was plenty of available firewood on the ground in the  forest surrounding our campsite.

We totally lucked out with respect to the weather.  The overnight low on Friday night dipped down close to freezing, but Saturday was clear and sunny with a daytime high in the mid-60's ... excellent for hiking!

The American Heritage Trail was 12.1 miles in length.  A couple of stretches were along lightly traveled county roads, but the vast majority of the trail was footpath through the woods.  The first 4 miles were hilly and moderately challenging; then the trail became easier.  A lunch area complete with picnic tables was located at the 7-mile point.  The trail lacked mileage markers, but was well blazed and exceptionally well maintained.

Upon completion of the trail, hikers were able to purchase a variety of patches and reasonably priced snacks in the "trading post" at the Trail Headquarters building.  Our group took almost exactly 7 hours to complete the hike, including a leisurely lunch stop and numerous short rest stops.  We're looking forward to returning to hike some of the other trails.

Our campsite contained plenty of flat ground to erect our canvas wall tents. Jeremy, Vincent, and Clinton in base camp early Saturday morning.  From the heavy coats and hoods, one might think these guys thought it was cold!
Scouts receive an orientation from owner/operator Ken Tuxhorn before starting the hike. Tim and J.D. discover a small cave along the trail and want a photo of them inside it; then they chicken out when they discover the ground is wet and muddy ... wimps!
The boys decided a couple of downed trees presented a "photo op" --- Andrew (top); Chris, Tim, Clinton, and Vincent (middle); J.D. and Jeremy (front). (L to R) Andrew, J.D., Tim, Vincent, Chris, Clinton, and Jeremy.
J.D., Clinton, and Jeremy trudge up a gravel road along one section of the trail. Andrew and J.D. engage in some friendly hiking stick horseplay during a rest stop.
Chris and Tim take a rest on a log near the last checkpoint along the trail. Clinton and Jeremy on the other end of the same log.  No one realizes at this point that the end of the trail is just over this hill.